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How to Win Votes and Influence People

Posted on Oct 20, 2008

By Marie Cocco

    The era of big government, having returned with a vengeance in the massive infusion of taxpayers’ cash into the banking system, has accomplished something no political candidate in memory could achieve. It has gotten liberals and conservatives to agree on something.

    The rough outline of the accord is this: The prospect of Democrat Barack Obama’s election to the White House, coupled with robust gains in the number of seats held by Democrats on Capitol Hill, would be the historical endnote to the Reagan era. To liberal prognosticators reveling in the moment, this could be the “realignment” election they have yearned for since Ronald Reagan, with his philosophy of lower taxes, smaller government and deregulation, effectively sundered the New Deal coalition. To conservatives—well, why say it myself when The Wall Street Journal is so eloquently apocalyptic?

    “Liberals would dominate the entire government in a way they haven’t since 1965, or 1933,” the Journal’s editorial page wrote last week. “In other words, the election would mark the restoration of the activist government that fell out of public favor in the 1970s.” The Journal warns of a “period of unchecked left-wing ascendancy” and says Americans “ought to understand what they will be getting.”

    Unless it is not possible to know what they will be getting, or even what they want. A new poll by the Pew Research Center suggests that despite the Democratic takeover of Congress in 2006—and despite some agreement that the government’s failure to properly regulate the financial industry might have helped cause the economic crisis—the public remains deeply skeptical about the efficacy of government. Even as hard times bear down on us, Americans are souring on the idea of expanding government to help people in need.

    A clear majority—57 percent in the Pew poll—say that government is almost always “wasteful and inefficient.” That’s up from 47 percent who held that dim view in December 2004. Barely half say government “should do more to help needy Americans even if it means going deeper into debt”—a marked decline from the 57 percent who wanted more help for the needy four years ago.

    Even as the financial turmoil has boosted Obama’s political prospects, not even Democrats are overwhelmingly on board with the idea that the current crisis was caused primarily by lax regulation. In fact, the chief cause the public cited in the Pew poll was “people taking on too much debt,” which was named by a whopping 79 percent. Though Democrats were more likely than Republicans and independents to say that weak government regulation contributed to the economic meltdown, they, too, placed the blame more squarely on average individuals. Three-fourths of Democrats also said “people taking on too much debt’’ was the chief cause.

    The public hardly seems ready for the sort of activist, liberal government that gives conservatives such jitters. Besides, with projected deficits and debt already growing beyond anything imagined since the early 1980s, the window in which Obama or Republican John McCain will have to implement programs that cost money will probably be brief. Government intervention and spending that are grudgingly accepted as necessary now could well be viewed as extravagant in just a few months.

    The need for a quick, second economic stimulus package seems clear and is likely to be welcomed if, in fact, it spurs job creation. Much cloudier is the outlook for whether the next president can implement much of anything he has campaigned for—whether that is the tax cuts and social spending promoted by Obama or the additional tax cuts pledged by McCain.

    If the Democrats do win big, liberals who become irrationally exuberant would soon enter a political danger zone. “People are concerned about government, debt, taxes—outlays like that,” says Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew center. “The Democrats have to be careful not to overreach and go beyond public opinion.”

    That, he notes, is what happened to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, when he tried to implement the deep spending reductions that were required to offset the big tax cuts embodied in the Republicans’ 1994 Contract With America. The showdown with President Clinton that resulted in shutting down the federal government bolstered Clinton’s standing and may have helped him win re-election.

    Kohut, for his part, says he sees “no evidence yet” of a political realignment. These, he says, aren’t accomplished in winning campaigns. They evolve only when the winner governs successfully.
    Marie Cocco’s e-mail address is mariecocco(at)
    © 2008, Washington Post Writers Group


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By JNagarya, October 22, 2008 at 11:32 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Conservatives fear a “period of unchecked left-wing ascendancy” . . . .

They fear no such thing—they lie that that is to be feared.  What they fear is being found out, and losing power.  More pointedly: they fear being found out as the liars they always are—especially about everyone else and themselves—and as consequence being thrown out of office into the specialized cesspool from which they crawled in the fist place.

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By Tom Edgar, October 22, 2008 at 11:25 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

You pay the Piper, you call the songs.

You’ve had one lot who played the “Fiddle.”

Now you have the chance to right the wrongs.

McCain is approved by Rove, Bush, & Cheney.

If that isn’t reason enough to reject.

I don’t know what the hell there could be.

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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By tdbach, October 22, 2008 at 6:07 am Link to this comment

the-real-truth: No disrespect intended, but you need to work on your reading comprehension skills. Para 6 isn’t about Cocco “pushing” the theory that “we” caused the crisis; she’s pointing out that vast majority of Americans think that we have recklessly borrowed our way into this crisis. The point of the article is that the mood of the country is very skeptical of government, even as it is depending on government to get us out of this mess, and that a liberal administration should be cognizant of this skepticism because it could quickly lose the support of the people if it overreaches.

What does that have to do with aristocracy??

I agree with you that “we” are bit players in this crisis, that Wall Street got caught up in wild, speculative investment fever that made a very few people very, very rich (although most of them were rich to begin with), and it sticks in my craw, like it sticks in yours, to do ANYTHING that softens the blow for these clowns. But the fact is, we - as a country - can’t afford to do nothing. Believe me, if we do nothing, it ain’t those same fat cats who are going to suffer the most. It’s “we.”

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By the-real-truth, October 21, 2008 at 7:29 pm Link to this comment


did you read it? author pushes the line that the we caused this. 6th para.

They were willing to give the credit when they should not have. They took the risk, not me. They should eat the cost.

Obama tries to pull one over saying he is for the common guy. The middle class blue collar worker with 2 jobs etc. etc. etc. Its a bunch of B.S.

He should have been 100% against the bailout bill if that was true. But no, they are manipulating you to take the blame. The problem was not the avg guy, it was the corporations overextending their risk.

No one put a gun to their head and made them lend money.

What dont you understand here?

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Purple Girl's avatar

By Purple Girl, October 21, 2008 at 3:21 pm Link to this comment

Once again way to much credit to mere puppets and minions (ie ‘Rovian tactic’ Please he hadn’t even popped his first zit when the first edition was published!)
But your chronology is correct…Ding Dong the Dick is Gone,the dirty old dick!!!!
What 9/11 did to aid the Neo Cons in pushing their Middle ages doctrine, This economic meltdown may do for a quick and Efficient pivot away from it!silver lining Some staunch ‘Republicans’ are waking up to the fact the Republicans don’t give a Shit about them- they are actually still regarded as ‘labor’.
Funny tha tin th efact of Undeniable Evidence some still Cling to the Delusion that republicans are ‘small Gov’t’, Low taxes’ and ‘fiscally respsonsible’. Hint ..Even if theGov’t contracts out some services to Private industry, WE STILL GET THE BILL! So They are Part of the Total expenditure and census of the Federal Gov’t.So Republicans not only created more layers in gov’t and some extra Redundancy for Shits & giggles, but also Hired Halliburton, Blackwater etal on ON OUR DIME!
there has not been a Real Old School Republican since ...maybe Ike - ya know the President who warned US about the potential for a ‘Military Industrial Complex’ .Or What HW so embraced it as ‘The New World Order’. Look how far the Republican brand has fallen,what a Disgrace they have been ever since- Watergate, Iran Contra, Blood of Oil Rounds 1 &2;,and W’s Claim to fame will be Destroying every single Rigtth and Freedom bestowed upon US by our forefathers.I’m Sure Lincolns saying ‘Heckova Job’!
May Powells Forthrightness be a call to all those exiled Republicans, inspire them too to Reclaim their party as the Democrats have done (What conviction was so dire Teddy Came to the Convention?‘I pass the Torch to Sen Obama’.Did ya miss that Guantlet whizzing past the Clintons heads?
Between Teddy’s declaration and Powells endorsement..We just might save this Country from corp Whores in both parties (Monarchies with Logos).
could we truely be ‘Free at last,Dear God almighty we are Free at last!’

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By dihey, October 21, 2008 at 2:39 pm Link to this comment

In these economically worrisome times, people who come to rallies of the candidates ought to listen silently and carefully to what the candidates have to say. In this respect I notice a significant difference between the Obama/Biden and the McCain/Palin audiences. The former listen intently most of the time. The latter only cheer and jeer which means they do not listen at all. The cause: what the candidates have to say. McCain/Palin are obviously trash-feeders par excellence.

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By tdbach, October 21, 2008 at 2:02 pm Link to this comment

the-real-truth: What does your aristocrat rant have to do with this article? What Obama mythology did you read into Cocco’s story?

Methinks you’ve got something to say, and you’re just going to say it. Doesn’t matter if it swoops in from left field and no one’s there to listen. You’re going to get it off your chest.

By the way, Gore Vidal and W.F. Buckley are/were part of the aristocracy. So what’s your point?

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By woody, October 21, 2008 at 11:56 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Kohut, for his part, says he sees “no evidence yet” of a political realignment. These, he says, aren’t accomplished in winning campaigns. They evolve only when the winner governs successfully.

Unfortunately, “successfully” governing the USofA in the post-Bushevik epoch will be impossible, because the Busheviks, having the “Mierdas touch,” have turned EVERYTHING they touched into reeking puddles of runny shit.

The clusterphuque left behind by the Busheviks includes the countless cells of Bushevik loyalists hired as career employees by partisan hacks like Monica Goodling at DoJ (you doubt there was a Monica Goodling at Interior, State, Treasury, etc?). Their sole function, post-W, will be to obstruct any efforts to clean up the mess the Busheviks left behind, and protect the ‘legacy. That legacy will prove unfixable, as it was designed to be, and a President Obama will crash his ship of State on the shoals thoughtfully dug for him these last 8 years, preparing the way for the return of the Fascisti in ‘12, when Obama will be un-re-electable due to his ‘failure’ top fix the remnants of the country ruined by the Busheviks…

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By the-real-truth, October 21, 2008 at 6:02 am Link to this comment

Oh my. How gullible and naïve you really are. Here is a life lesson for you:

Aristocrats control the country. Obama represents the Democrat Aristocrats and McCain, the Republican Aristocrats. They might tell you that they are for the “common man” but that would be a lie. To be for the “common man” would mean that they are against the Aristocrat but that is simply not the case because the Aristocrats are the ones bank rolling their election.

Obama and McCain’s only purpose going forward is to protect those that elected them. Meaning, they will continue to protect the wealth of the Aristocrat.

Stop with the Obama mythology already. He is one of them, not one of us. It is and has always been class warfare and the “common man” has always been on the loosing end.

That is the real truth.

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